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Mobile Money Transfers to M-PESA Subscribers in Kenya Now Available from Western Union Locations in 45 Countries, Territories

Thursday, March 31, 2011 08:00 AM

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., Mar 31, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Western Union (NYSE: WU) today announced that consumers can now send money directly to the mobile "wallets" of Safaricom M-PESA subscribers in Kenya from 45 countries and territories - the first service of its kind in the world.

The expansion of the service to more than 80,000 Western Union Agent locations worldwide follows the successful debut of the offering from Western Union Agent locations and the westernunion.com website in the U.K.

The service rides on Western Union's worldwide network and trusted global "hub" for processing cross-border remittances. It also builds on the unprecedented success of M-PESA, a domestic mobile money transfer service in Kenya offered by Safaricom that has attracted more than 13.5 million customers since its launch in 2007.

"We are pleased to extend our service with Safaricom, and we look forward to adding additional functionality for M-PESA users in the near future," said David Yates, Executive Vice President and President, Business Development and Innovation, Western Union.

The service will allow people to visit one of more than 80,000 Western Union Agent locations in 45 countries and territories across the globe, including the U.S., Canada, Italy and the U.K., and send funds directly to the mobile "wallets" of M-PESA's 13.5 million subscribers. Funds are delivered generally in minutes.

The service will likely be welcomed by thousands of Kenyans working abroad. According to the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenyans living outside their home country sent US$642 million home in 2010 - up from the US$609 million sent home in 2009.

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said, "Our customers are very proud of the revolutionary M-PESA service, and this partnership sees us pushing new boundaries to continue to keep Kenya at the forefront of the mobile world. Through this partnership, our customers and their friends and families will benefit from affordable, faster and more convenient international remittances, and the money is available to use straightaway for any M-PESA transaction, or can be withdrawn as cash at any of our 24,000 Safaricom agents."

Western Union offers the Mobile Money Transfer Service in the Philippines with Smart Communications and Globe Telecom; in Malaysia with Maxis; and in Canada with EnStream. Western Union also has agreements with other mobile operators and banks to introduce the service in the future.

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions-branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. The Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta-branded services are offered through a combined network of 445,000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2010, The Western Union Company completed 214 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $76 billion of principal between consumers, and 405 million business payments. For more information, visit http://www.westernunion.com.

About Safaricom's M-PESA

The M-PESA service, the first of its kind in the world, was launched in March 2007. As at 31st October, 2010, the service had over 13.5 million customers and over 22,000 Agent outlets countrywide. Over 600 organisations are now accepting Bill Payment via M-PESA.

The service does not require users to have a bank account; an important aspect in Kenya, where millions of people do not operate bank accounts. With M-PESA, account holders can buy electronic funds at an M-PESA agent and send the electronic value to any other mobile phone user in the country, who can then redeem it for conventional cash at any M-PESA agent.

M-PESA customers can hold up to KShs100,000 in their M-PESA account at any one time, and can do transactions of up to KShs140,000 in a day. Between KShs 50 and KShs70,000 can be deposited, sent or withdrawn per transaction.

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SOURCE: Western Union

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